2018 RPCS National Herd Competition Winner
The winner was announced at the Annual Dinner and presented by The President Tony Barratt.
Overall Champion – John Pochin’s Pochin Herd
Large Herds – John Pochin’s Pochin Herd
Small Herds – Helen Arthan’s Chorlton Lane Herd
RED POLL CATTLE SOCIETY NATIONAL HERD COMPETITION 2018 - JUDGES REPORT & RESULT
I was greatly honoured to be asked to judge the Herd of the Year. I thought it would be a difficult task and proved to be such as every regional winner was truly deserving of the regional accolade and any one I would be proud to put forward as the winning herd. My term of appointment was to find a winner and so I did.
For saying we had just come out of one of the hottest continual spells of hot weather the cattle I was shown clearly reflected why Red Polls thrive in all climates.
I started my travels in Gillingham at the Lagan Herd. This herd of some 50 breeding females was mainly pure Red Polls with some Red Poll sired crosses. Ron and his team were putting many of their females to an Angus to benefit from the premiums available. There were some very deep bodied females with excellent udders standing up well after having had 8 or 9 calves. Whilst many breed pure it was great to see the use Red Poll females as a suckler dam giving that hybrid vigour to their calves. The crosses looked superb and show what the Red Poll can do as a commercial dam and terminal sire. Thanks to Ron, Jayne and David for showing me round and I must confess despite their great instructions I did miss the M5 turn at Bath.
Next was up to Cheshire and Helen Arthan’s Chorlton Lane Herd. This winner of the Northern Herds was the only small herd, of about 12 breeding females that I saw and once again some superb examples of the breed. I was impressed with her policy of Herd improvement and to see some excellent young stock coming through as replacements. Her old lady of the herd was over 14 and had produced 11 calves and still looked well. The udders were very good with well-placed teats. Helen is very discerning about the bulls she brings in and looks for traits that will continue to improve her herd.
Travelling down to Barkby in Leicestershire to see the Pochin herd winner of the Midlands area. Thanks to Andrew and Janet Kirk for driving we around to look at all of the stock. They were a picture to behold in the Park setting. The cows with calves were split into two main groups, cows and heifer calves and cows with bull calves. The herd contains some superb deep bodied cows and once again longevity of breeding. The young stock all looked well despite the grass shortage in the Summer I also saw some very well fleshed steers, showing what good dooers they are. The stock bulls reflected once again the Herd’s policy of improvement and where necessary culling if udders were not right.
The final herd was the Eastern Region winner the Countess of Euston and the Grafton Herd at Thetford. Another herd kept extensively on some beautiful parkland. Thanks to Andrew Blenkiron for showing me around and introducing me to Elvis – the largest Red Poll steer I have ever seen. The Grafton Herd is bred pure and supplies local butchers with beef. The Herd sires are bought in and you can see the improvement in the young stock and herd replacements coming through to what is a relatively young herd. I thought what a brave man Andrew is to calve outside in all weathers; but that is Red Polls. The on-going improvement in the herd results in some superb heifers replacing older cows where the udders are not quite so good and perhaps top lines and body depth needs improving.
Thank you to Ron, Jayne and David at Lagan Farms, Helen Arthan, Chorlton Lane Herd, Andrew and Janet Kirk, Pochin Herd and Andrew Blenkiron, Grafton Herd for their warm welcome, time and trouble showing their herds.
I had to make a decision and after much rumination, that is thought rather than chewing the cud, I selected The Pochin Herd. A superb display of adult cattle and young stock looking exceptionally well and a great advert for the breed..